Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Applied Science (MASc)


Civil Engineering


R. Drysdale


W. El-Dakhakhni




A majority of the experimental research on masonry shear wall behaviour has been done on single storey walls and on piers in many cases due to physical and equipment limitations in laboratories or time and cost constraints. Although full scale testing of multi-storey masonry shear walls has been carried out at McMaster University where the laboratory could accommodate walls up to about 8 m high, such testing is indeed very time consuming, costly, and even somewhat dangerous as the result of working at significant heights above the laboratory floor. Therefore, a decision was made to make use of scaled concrete blocks and proportionately scaled walls to conduct shear wall research over a range of wall sizes representative of walls in buildings. Half scale units have been used at McMaster University for the past 6 years and the research presented in this thesis represents the initiation of shear wall research using one-third scale concrete blocks. Therefore, one of the important and unavoidable focuses of this research is to provide a solid basis for future research on scaled shear walls.

In terms of shear wall behaviour, the focus of this study is the flexural response of ductile reinforced masonry shear walls of various sizes and configurations. In addition to this documentation of basic shear wall response, an added objective is to initiate study of the interaction of various sizes and configurations of shear walls on the seismic performance of representative shear wall buildings as the next logical step beyond response of individual walls. To this end, an objective is to assess the results of using combinations of the tested walls contained within a conceptual structure.

In terms of practical output, the experimental testing of shear walls will concentrate on inducing large displacements and examining the responses as they pertain to seismic parameters. The primary objective is to augment existing research focused on the displacement ductility of reinforced masonry shear walls and the force modification factor, Rd, as well as to provide a comparison between observed performance and the current design practices within the National Building Code of Canada (2005) and the masonry design standard, CSA S304.1 (2004).

Overall, the results obtained from this study provide positive feedback for the use of fully grouted reinforced one third scale concrete block shear wall testing. The observed ductility was below the expected level, however, these results are an indicator that the current Rd value is a lower bound value. Although the relatively brittle steel presented complications and prevented full value from being achieved from the tests, when considered as lower bound results, they provide a positive indication of the resistance of ductile reinforced masonry shear walls subjected to seismic forces.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."